Relocation of Pride parade costs organizers big money

Posted at 10:14 PM, Jan 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-19 22:14:11-05

"Venoy park and downtown is a much wider area, much more viewing space for attendee's," said St. Pete Pride executive director Eric Skains.

The pride parade is meant to represent unity but a deep division on where it will take place this year is now threatening its funding.

"That $45 thousand Mayor Kriseman is taking away goes towards security measures such as barricades and police officers," said Skains. "Now the city will still provide those services but at a much higher cost."

In a Facebook post Wednesday, St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman announced the city will not provide their annual funding contribution if the parade is moved from Grand Central, where its been held since 2003, to Vinoy park in Downtown.

"Over 50 percent of attendees come from outside of Pinellas County so its an opportunity for us to meet their demands as far as parking and hotels," said Skains.

Organizers say, they'll now be forced to pay the extra costs which could impact grants they provide to local LGBT programs.

"We've provided grants to an organization for LGBT homeless youth, so kids who've been kicked out of their homes and are looking for foster care, we've been able to provide funding to organizations that provide that care," said Skains.

However St. Pete Pride Founder Brian Longstreth says he doesn't agree with the move. He says many businesses who've supported the parade from the beginning along the Grand Central route will now miss out on swaths of potential customers.  

Longstreth also says the St. Pete Pride board made the decision without consulting those business owners or the LGBT community at large.

"I think its the lack of communication and transparency with the actions of the St. Pete pride board and the director that are the most frustrating," said Longstreth.

Mayor Rick Kriseman says his decision stems from the outcry from the business along the original route during a recent meeting.

Kriseman believes the parade should remain amongst the members of the community who created it in the first place.

"Both the business community and the neighborhood came out in force to say we want you please don't leave," said Kriseman.

Kriseman also says he's discussed making the parade route longer to accommodate the growing crowds. None the less organizers say they are moving forward and hope everyone else will eventually get on board.